By on 10.3.19 in Migration, NC in Focus

North Carolina’s population has grown by 848,000 new residents, or 8.9%, since the 2010 Census, rising to 10.4 million residents as of 2018. The state’s annual growth slowed during the Great Recession of 2008 and subsequent recovery period but began to accelerate mid-decade. Since 2015, North Carolina has averaged more than 110,000 new residents each year. Most of this growth is from net migration, meaning more people are moving to our state than those who move away.

To put that in perspective, three of every four new residents added to North Carolina since 2015 came from net migration. In 2017, the state grew by 113,000 new residents. Of these, 26,000 came from more births than deaths. The state gained 87,000 new residents from net migration—nearly 368,000 individuals moved into North Carolina that year, meaning another 281,000 moved away. Where are our new residents moving from?

Most people moving to North Carolina in 2017 moved here from elsewhere within the United States: 314,000 or 85% of all in-migrants to NC. Top states were:

  • Florida (32K)
  • Virginia (29K)
  • South Carolina (27K)
  • New York (27K)
  • California (20K) Top Sending States to NC (2017)

Conversely, the least common states of origin for NC in-migrants were South Dakota, Rhode Island, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Hampshire. Fewer than 200 residents moved to NC from one of these six states in 2017.

The remaining 54,000 or 15% of in-migrants to NC in 2017 moved here from another country. Top countries were:

  • India (5.7K)
  • China (4.7K)
  • Mexico (3.2K)
  • Korea (3.1K)
  • Germany and El Salvador (each 2.4K)Top Sending Countries to NC (2017)

Many of the individuals moving here from other states and countries are NC-born individuals moving back to the state. Nearly one in every six in-migrants to NC in 2017—63,000 individuals—was born in North Carolina. Among the top-sending states, in-migrants from neighboring South Carolina were the most likely to be NC-born (31%) while in-migrants from California were the least likely to report NC origins (11%). Among top-sending countries, in-migrants from China (31%) and Germany (30%) were the most likely to be NC-born. In-migrants from India were the least likely to be NC-born (5%).

Sources: Population growth and net migration statistics derived from U.S. Census Bureau’s annual population estimates. In-migrant origins based on Carolina Demography analysis of 2017 American Community Survey data from IPUMS-USA.


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